HMP Brixton is “actively seeking” a partner to set up a facility in the prison grounds that could be used to train offenders to work on projects such as HS2 after release.
In an interview with Construction News, HMP Brixton head of reducing re-offending Graham Horlock said the prison was targeting the likes of HS2 and TfL as partners for a rail training facility within the grounds of the prison.
He added that such a facility would give prisoners skills “so they can work in the rail environment – be it on HS2 or [an underground] line”.
Mr Horlock said the prison was hoping to bring in a company that would invest in building the facility on disused prison land, with this partner firm getting “first dibs” on workers trained under the programme in exchange.
Currently, HMP Brixton offers five construction training programmes in: painting and decorating; drylining; scaffolding; CSCS; and health and safety.
Building on its existing courses, the prison is now exploring the possibility of a dedicated rail training facility.
“Some of the research we’ve done shows a lot of work is being done in rail,” Mr Horlock said, adding that Network Rail currently provided practical and theoretical training in rail skills at other prisons, including maintenance and track laying.
“We believe we have space here which would be useful to them [Network Rail].”
Mr Horlock added that the prison was eager to engage with the wider rail sector as well.
“We don’t have a set model in mind, but we’re encouraging people to come to Brixton with ideas and whether it would work with the space we have available,” he said.
HMP Brixton is currently negotiating funding for the initiative with the MoJ.
Mr Horlock said he estimated that the prison would know whether it had secured the necessary funds for the initiative by February 2019.
The prison would then start to look at the security requirements needed to extend the prison.
Mr Horlock said he believed contractors using prisons as training facilities represented an “excellent concept”, and could help prisoners secure jobs while reducing re-offending.
Each year, roughly 300 prisoners take part in HMP Brixton’s construction training programmes run by and charity and training organisation Bounce Back.
HMP Brixton is one of 75 prisons across the country that offer construction training courses to prisoners.
The MoJ told CN that roughly 2,000 prisoners took part in construction training courses across these prisons for the 2017/18 academic year.